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Assembly 'marginalised' over budget

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Ulster Unionist David McNarry said the Assembly had been 'marginalised' over the budget

Ulster Unionist David McNarry said the Assembly had been 'marginalised' over the budget

Ulster Unionist David McNarry said the Assembly had been 'marginalised' over the budget

The Assembly and public have been marginalised in shaping the budget in Northern Ireland, it has been claimed.

Lack of detail and tight time frames make it difficult to scrutinise proposed savings, Strangford Ulster Unionist David McNarry said. He added seven out of 11 Stormont committees had expressed dissatisfaction.

Ministers have extended the period of consultation in an effort to improve feedback.

The Assembly was debating the budget for 2011/15, which includes massive cuts in expenditure because of a reduction in the block grant from Westminster.

Mr McNarry said: "There is a process at play, whether by accident or design, to effectively marginalise the Assembly.

"Serious concerns have been raised around the lack of proper engagement within Assembly committees and the wider public."

He also criticised plans to cut 5% from the budgets of the audit office and the body running the Assembly.

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A total of two months were allowed for consultation after the Northern Ireland Executive became the last in the UK to agree a budget before Christmas.

Sammy Wilson has raised concerns about the amount of time it took departments to publish their budgets after the overall allocations were agreed by the Executive before Christmas. An extra week's consultation was subsequently agreed on by the Executive.

Mr Wilson said the audit office and Assembly Commission had under-spent in the past.


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